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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 17:57 GMT
Mobile phone demand declines
Nokia telephone
Nokia increased market share despite selling fewer phones
World sales of mobile phones dipped during the past three months, because of economic uncertainty and the delayed introduction of new mobile technology, a report has said.

Market research group Gartner Dataquest said 94.4 million mobile phones were sold worldwide during the July-to-September period, down from 103 million in April to June.

Gartner said the figure reflected a particularly sharp drop in demand in western Europe.

This is the first time that the key European market has shown any signs of weakening from one three-month period to the next.

'Unprecedented' decline

"That is quite unprecedented," Ben Wood, European telecoms research director at Gartner, told BBC News Online.

Mr Wood blamed the delayed introduction of new generation mobile devices, which has led many consumers to postpone purchasing new handsets.

An increase in the average cost of popular "pay-as-you-go" telephones, together with mounting fears of a recession, have also reduced sales.

"Subsidies on pre-paid phones have been phased out, and a lot of people are deferring purchases until the new technology becomes available," said Mr Wood.

New market realism

"A sense of realism is returning to the European market. The exponential growth we have seen in recent years could not be sustained forever."

Future growth opportunities lie in China and other Asian countries where mobile phone penetration remains low, he added.

The latest Gartner survey shows that of the top five mobile manufacturers, just two - Motorola and Samsung - sold more units between July and September 2001 than during the same period last year.

The world's largest mobile phone maker Nokia sold slightly fewer handsets, but managed to consolidate its position as market leader, boosting its share of world sales by 3.2 percentage points to 33.4%.

Motorola's share of the market also rose, climbing to 15.7% from 13.3% in September 2000.

Ericsson's market share slipped to 8% from 9.7%, but the company is tipped to recover lost ground next year with a range of novel handsets emerging from its joint venture with Sony.

Nokia product launch

Nokia on Monday launched its colour screen 7650 handset, one of the first of a new generation of mobile telephones using high-speed internet General Packet Radio Services (GPRS) technology.

The mobile phone industry is hoping that GPRS devices will relaunch growth in the stagnant European market.

Nokia said it expects its 7650 handset to become available to the general public in the middle of next year.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | Business
Charting the rise of Nokia
19 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Nokia opens up its phones
19 Jul 01 | Business
Nokia profits down 20%
17 May 01 | New Media
Nokia develops mobile entertainment
07 Nov 01 | Business
Motorola boosts China investment
09 Oct 01 | Business
Motorola losses continue
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